When we first met Katie Thurston on last season of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” the fresh-faced lass from Renton was getting out of a limo with an adult toy and a dream: To fall in love with star Matt James at a swanky Pennsylvania resort. It may have taken her another season and a change of scenery, but the bank marketing manager and now “Bachelorette” star finally found love with sturdy Canadian Blake Moynes.
Less than 24 hours after announcing their engagement on television during the show’s Aug. 9 season finale (a surprise even to their families), Thurston and Moynes sat down for a quick interview with The Seattle Times. (Catch up on this season with our “Bachelorette” recaps at st.news/bachelorette.) They talked about navigating public opinion while looking for love, finding closure with a difficult ex, and where Thurston would have taken Moynes if she’d been able to have a hometown visit on the show.
The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Congratulations on your engagement! You said that your family found out about it along with the rest of America. Was it hard not to tell anyone?
Katie Thurston: It was such a hard secret to keep! I wanted to have a celebration with the world and say, “This is my person!” Now that everyone knows, I’m relieved and ready to live life as a couple.
Blake Moynes: My sister did know, but my mom and dad didn’t know. They knew we were together but not fully engaged.
Katie, we know you’re very active on social media. Have you been online a lot since the finale to see what everyone is saying?
Thurston: The No. 1 piece of advice that three different Bachelorettes have given me is to stay off social media for the first couple of days. There’s been lots of love, but also lots of hate. I’m just ready to enjoy my fiancé.
Both of you were on previous seasons of Bachelor Nation shows, Katie on Matt James’ season and Blake on Clare Crawley’s and Tayshia Adams’ shared season. Does that prepare you for the scrutiny and the opinions?
Thurston: I’m not surprised. Bachelor Nation is the most intense fan base, in both the best and worst ways. There’s lots of love for people who are supportive, and then those who want to speak negatively go out of their way to do so. The only opinion that really matters is each other’s.
Moynes: You know there’s a thick skin you need to have, and you know what comes with (being on the show). So coming in with that thick skin certainly helps.
Katie, there was a moment in the beginning of the finale after suitor Greg Grippo left that you wanted to fly home right then. Besides that, were there any moments that you questioned whether it was all worth it to find love?
Thurston: I never thought it wouldn’t be worth it. It gets really hard. It was harder waiting for that “aha” moment, which I finally got with Blake. It is a struggle. I hope that Michelle [Young, the next “Bachelorette” star] doesn’t have to experience it the way I do.
Katie, the part of the finale when you confronted Greg was a big deal, because of the angry way in which he left. Did you find closure in that moment when you got to talk to him, and did you get what you wanted out of that interaction?
Thurston: Ultimately, I was only speaking on my behalf. I’ve heard different perspectives from people of what happened, but the bigger thing to take away was that I got the closure that I needed.
Katie, you were presented as a different sort of Bachelorette — sex-positive, direct and not interested in games. You listened to the other men in the house and sent home people who weren’t there for the right reasons. Do you think it worked out the way you wanted and do you think you were prepared, or can you be?
Thurston: I thought I knew what to expect, but it’s not at all [what you expect] being on the other side, dating all the people. It is very hard, and no matter what anyone tells you to prepare you, you can’t expect everything to go the way you want.
Moynes: I think that because I had been on before, I had expectations of how things typically work. But there was a whole new group of guys and a completely different [Bachelorette], and you never know what’s coming. One thing that the show is good at is getting true reactions and emotions. You can prepare as much as you want, but that’s not really going to help you.
Blake, you came into this season several episodes in, specifically to meet Katie. What was it about her that made you want to?
Moynes: I think it was me looking for love, trying to find a pattern in life, finding common intentions and a personality that aligns. When I first saw Katie in Matt’s season, I saw a lot of the same qualities that I saw in myself, and I knew we would hit it off. Like the way she played out that whole vibrator thing (in Matt’s season). There were people who were so serious, and the way she looks at life is not so serious. I have the same approach, and I wanted to see what came of it, to see if romance would happen. And it did.
Katie, obviously the “Hometown” dates that would have actually happened in your real hometown didn’t happen because of COVID-19. Where would you have taken Blake if you could have?
Thurston: I don’t know if I would have done Seattle actually. There are things like the Olympic Game Farm in Sequim that would have been us going on an adventure together. People would have seen how much our passions align, and they’ll see that going forward with us.
Speaking of Seattle, I hear that you’re moving to San Diego, California!
Thurston: I am moving to San Diego next month. For me, it’s the sun. People from Seattle can relate! I’ve been living in Washington my whole life, and now I have the freedom to move somewhere else with a year of sunshine. It does something to your mood, and to leave the nest.
I have to ask about Katie’s Aunt Lindsey, who was very … forthcoming on the finale in her questions for Blake.
Moynes: I was prepared a little, because Katie had told me that Aunt Lindsey was probably going to be a little hard on me. And she did not disappoint! [Laughs.] Her questions were valid, but none of my answers were hitting home with her. I know she was looking out for Katie and that her approach was a little more tough. I’m looking forward to meeting up away from the cameras and having a beer with her.
Yeah, she’s family now!
Moynes: Yes! I think she’s on my side.
So Katie, what’s your advice for Michelle and other subsequent Bachelorettes?
Thurston: Get to know every single guy. Some people are quick to be drawn to one type of person, but you learn a lot about yourself. You might fall for the ones you wouldn’t have given a chance. You have to stay open. That’s what I did, until the very end.